Centre for Continuing Education

Documentary Course: Introduction to Producing and Directing

Film. Focus on cinema.

Appreciate and learn about film the smart way with Film courses at the University of Sydney.

Before making a great documentary journalists and filmmakers need to grasp the basics. Documentary producing and directing requires a nuanced sense of the rights and obligations of a filmmaker and how to get the most out of pre-production and shoot to maximise the creative outcomes for a film. Participants in this documentary course for producing and directing will develop professional standards whilst making their own documentary. Each participant will produce and direct their own documentary film (5 minutes in length) and screen it at the end of the 6 week program. Participants will also learn how to master their production equipment for best results, including cameras, microphones, and editing software. The knowledge and skills taken from this program can be adopted to corporate video production.

Course Content

Documentary History and Appreciation


  • Sourcing talent
  • Finding a story
  • Finding the audience
  • Research
  • Ethnographic study principals
  • Modes of documentary
  • Planning documentary shoot days


  • Interview technique
  • Camera operation for documentary
  • Creating engaging B Roll
  • Sound recording
  • Basic lighting


  • Editing theory
  • Editing process for documentary
  • Exhibition

Knowledge Outcomes:

  • Documentary producing ethics and principals
  • Documentary production styles and techniques
  • Interview technique and strategy
  • Documentary production process management
  • Sourcing talent and story considerations.

Skill Outcomes:

  • Camera operation
  • Sound recording
  • Planning and scheduling
  • Logistics of documentary film production
  • Video editing process
  • Mastering of videos for online and cinema delivery

Course Delivery

This documentary course for producing and directing is delivered in small consultative group sessions which include, presentations, demonstrations, discussions and screenings of documentary films. Importantly this program is consultative as the participants receive feedback every week on the progress of their documentary film. The films are produced outside class time.

Before the course

Participants need not purchase equipment before the commencement of this documentary course, advice and consultation will be given in week one for those participants who are unsure of what equipment should be used. As a guide and for best results, it will be recommended that the participants have access to the following equipment:

  • Camera or DSLR with video capability
  • Lapel microphone
  • Tripod
  • Laptop computer (both Apple and PC platforms are suitable)
  • Adobe premiere pro software for video editing (or similar)

Participants may also wish to use their smartphone as a substitute to a camera or DSLR, this is fine and will enable production.

Course Outcomes

At the completion of this documentary course, particpants should be able to:

  • Produce a high quality documentary
  • Prepare for and shoot a documentary interview
  • Shoot B roll
  • Shoot observational footage
  • Source Documentary talent
  • Edit digital video into a visual story
  • Produce to completion a 5 minute micro documentary


  • Expert trainers
  • Central locations
  • Small class sizes
  • Free, expert advice
  • Student materials – yours to keep
  • Statement of completion
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